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Stars Players Welcome NHL Realignment

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

photo by Trey Hill

Yesterday’s announcement that this will be the Stars’ final season in the Pacific Division as they will be playing in a new conference next year alongside such geographic rivals as Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis.

That’s because the new system means the Stars will play fewer games out west, which means less travel to and from the west coast, something which is just fine with current members of the Dallas roster.

“Yeah, it’s an extremely drastic change for us in Dallas. We’re obviously going to miss going to LA, Anaheim, Phoenix and playing in the warm spots,” center Steve Ott said. “But to be honest, the traveling is awful. All in all, it definitely makes things a lot easier on us. The Eastern team guys are in their bed by 12, one o’clock every single night, which is a big difference when you’re wasting days in a season.”

Captain Brenden Morrow agrees. “It’s great for us travel wise and schedule wise getting to see every team here for our fans. They don’t have to wait to see superstars like Crosby or Ovechkin,” he said. “That’s great for them. It’s going to be not so great for us when we have to play those guys one extra time.”

Dallas blue liner Nicklas Grossman admits playing so many games on the west coast has been a situation that should have changed a while ago. And now that it has changed, it’s definitely a huge positive for him and his teammates.

“I saw it last night. I guess they’re talking about cutting down the travel a little bit. It’ll be shorter trips and I guess it looks good. I guess it’s good for the league,” Grossman said. “It’s about time something happens and if they’re going to change something, I think that’s a good thing to do.”

Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, a native of Minnesota, likes the realignment because the Wild will also be in the same conference as Dallas, which means three regular-season trips back to his home state.

“I think it obviously sets up great for us with travel and everything-not crossing time zones and those long flights all the time. Going back to Minnesota three times, that will definitely be fun,” Goligoski said. “Specifically for us, it’s a good change.”

And being a guy who before being traded to Dallas last February by the Penguins had spent his time skating in the Eastern Conference, he thinks it’s a good thing for fans to be able to see such East stars as Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin at least once per season.

“Yeah, some years you’d see a team once or whatever. It’s kind of cool. I think it’s pretty cool for the fans,” Goligoski said. “The big hockey fans can see the best players on all the other teams. There’s no doubt they’ll be able to see them every year. It’s cool from that standpoint.”

While the Stars will no longer play Pacific Division rivals like Los Angeles and San Jose as often, that will give them more games against other natural rivals like the Blackhawks, Blues and Red Wings.

“I think the Western Conference itself is a natural rival. You play them four or six times, it doesn’t matter. Those four games can be just as hairy as any of the six,” Ott said. “I’m really excited about the change. It’s finally starting to make sense about how much moaning we’ve had to endure.”

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